The ship designs and general philosophies were developed around a basic story. I kept it simple so it would be relatable.
There are three notable factions populating the region: Steam Empire, Rogue Punks and Pirates.
The predominant force across the region.
Rogue Punks challenge the political position of the Steam Empire.
No political goals.
Steam Empire learned a while ago that using sailing hulls for Airships was inefficient and, therefore, began making custom Airship hulls.
Pirates have to scavenge and fashion their ships together. They utilize sailing hulls because of their abundance.
Rouge Punks are technologically between the Empire and the Pirates. Sometimes they have to scavenge and sometimes they obtain a cache of resources.
The Rest of the Story
This is not Earth. This story revolves around a little place named Corzia. Corzia is about the size of mainland Hawaii. Noone who has ventured out of eyesight of Corzia has returned. However, Corzians believe Corzia is a giant waterworld with Corzia as it’s sole land mass. The Corzians’ origins are not known. It is known that Corzians have been on Corzia for over a millenia, however prior to that, no written history remains.
500 years ago, an industrial revolution hit Corzia in the form of Steam-powered contraptions. Before this time, many Corzians used, what is known to the Corzians as, the Ayther (ay-ther) to influence reality. In other realms, unbeknownst to Corzians, this is known as Magic. Physically heated boilers worked far better than ones heated by Ayther.
420 years ago, the Fredrickson Clan discovered Aythus (ay-thus) under Black Rock Mountains. Aythus resembles Obsidian on Earth. However, Aythus has Ayther energy contained within.
418 years ago, the Fredrickson Clan develops a boiler heated by Aythus, which rarely needs recharged.
417 years ago, Steve Fredrickson develops an Airship that is powered by Aythus and that can absorb water for the surrounding air, while airborne, therefore alleviating this Airship from the need to land, ever. In Airship battles, this advantage would lead to Fredrickson Clan domination.
400 years ago during the industrial revolution that consumed Corzia, the Fredrickson Clan dominated the region. The Fredrickson Clan unified all the other clans and established the Steam Kingdom. Steve Fredrickson nominated himself as King. Prior to this time, all of Corzia was broken into separate clans controlling small, local regions of Corzia, none ever larger than a small town. Shortly, the Fredrickson Clan became the only clan, and converted into the reigning Monarchy. Some of the Clan Heads became Advisors to King Fredrickson, but many simply became Lords or Ladies of their respective regions.
390 years ago, King Fredrickson bans direct Ayther use, insists Corzians use Aythus instead, but restricts access to Aythus.
380 years ago, King Fredrickson deems direct Ayther use to be a capital crime punishable by death.
375 years ago, the first 19 Aythists are executed. Of course, this drives Corzians into a panic and drives Aytherists and Ayther users ‘underground’, a.k.a. into hiding. Noone has the power to stop King Fredrickson.
100 years ago, the 300 year-old monarchial Steam Kingdom fractured into the present Steam Empire, Rogue Punks and Pirates.